In a rush to keep Green
Wednesday, July 18, 2001
Green Bay Press Gazette

By Pete Dougherty

The Green Bay Packers are working hard on a possible contract extension with halfback Ahman Green, though it’s unclear whether the sides will make a deal before the team’s first two-a-day practice in training camp on July 28.

On Monday, former Dallas Cowboys personnel chief Gil Brandt, who works for, reported that the Packers are on the verge of signing Green to a long-term deal.

Andrew Brandt, the Packers’ director of player finance and no relation to Gil Brandt, met with Green’s agent at an undisclosed out-of-town location Tuesday but would say only that he’s working on a possible contract extension for Green.

Green’s agent, David Dunn, also represents the Packers’ first-round draft pick, Jamal Reynolds, who remains unsigned.

“I know we don’t have a deal with (Green),” said Reggie McKenzie, the Packers’ director of pro personnel. “We’ve been in ongoing talks, but no deal is imminent.”

Green will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and based on recent free-agent contracts for halfbacks, signing him to a long-term deal probably will cost the Packers a bonus of more than $5 million.

Last year, Detroit signed halfback James Stewart as a free agent to a five-year deal that included a $5.75 million signing bonus and averaged $5 million a year. This offseason, the NFC champion New York Giants re-signed halfback Tiki Barber to a five-year deal that included a $7 million signing bonus and averaged just over $5 million a season.

Green was a backup his first two years in the NFL but had a strong season as a starter last year in place of Dorsey Levens, who had knee problems that limited him to five games. Green led the Packers in rushing (1,175 yards, 4.5 yards a carry) and receptions (73).

If the Packers don’t sign Green to an extension and he performs comparably to last year, he’ll be one of the NFL’s most attractive free agents.

Though he’s entering his fourth season in the league, he turned 24 in February.

Levens has had injury problems in recent years and at 31 is most likely near the end of his career.

“We think (Green) has developed into a good player and think he’ll get nothing but better as the next couple, three years go by,” McKenzie said.

“He has everything in his favor: Youth, he’s getting experience and he has talent.”

If the Packers sign Green to a long-term deal, they almost surely will take a small salary-cap hit.

His current salary-cap figure is about $1.15 million, and depending on the structure of an extension, that probably would rise to close to $1.5 million. The Packers are about $500,000 under the salary cap, according to a source with access to NFLPA salary-cap information.

The Packers also officially signed free-agent Billy Joe Tolliver as a possible No. 2 quarterback.

Tolliver, 35, has started 47 games in his 11 seasons in the NFL.

He’ll wear No. 12 and compete in training camp with Doug Pederson for the top backup job behind Brett Favre.

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